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Fashion is arbitrary, we all know. What it was that originally
gave Sassafras street the right to despise Pepperidge street,
the oldest inhabitant of the village of Slimford could not positively
say. The courthouse and jail were in Sassafras street; but the
orthodox church and female seminary were in Pepperidge street.

Two directors of the Slimford bank lived in Sassafras street—
two in Pepperidge street. The Dyaper family lived in Sassafras
street—the Dimity family in Pepperidge street; and the fathers of
the Dyaper girls and the Dimity girls were worth about the same
money, and had both made it in the lumber line. There was no
difference to speak of in their respective mode of living—none in
the education of the girls—none in the family gravestones or
church-pews. Yet, deny it who liked, the Dyapers were the
aristocracy of Slimford.

It may be a prejudice, but I am inclined to think there is
always something in a nose. (I am about to mention a trifle,
but trifles are the beginning of most things, and I would account
for the pride paramount of the Dyapers, if it is in any way possible.)
The most stylish of the Miss Dyapers—Harriet Dyaper—
had a nose like his grace the Duke of Wellington. Neither her


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father nor mother had such a feature; but there was a foreign
umbrella in the family with exactly the same shaped nose on the
ivory handle. Old Dyaper had once kept a tavern, and he had
taken this umbrella from a stranger for a night's lodging. But
that is neither here nor there. To the nose of Harriet Dyaper,
resistlessly and instinctively, the Dimity girls had knocked under
at school. There was authority for it; for the American eagle
had such a nose, and the Duke of Wellington had such a nose;
and when, to these two warlike instances, was added the nose of
Harriet Dyaper, the tripod stood firm. Am I visionary in believing
that the authority introduced into that village by a foreigner's
umbrella (so unaccountable is fate) gave the dynasty to
the Dyapers?

I have mentioned but two families—one in each of the two
principal streets of Slimford. Having a little story to tell, I
cannot afford to distract my narrative with unnecessary “asides;”
and I must not only omit all description of the other Sassafrasers
and Pepperidgers, but I must leave to your imagination several
Miss Dyapers and several Miss Dimitys—Harriet Dyaper and
Meena Dimity being the two exclusive objects of my hero's Sunday
and evening attentions.

For eleven months in the year, the loves of the ladies of Slimford
were presided over by indigenous Cupids. Brown Crash and
the other boys of the village had the Dyapers and the Dimitys
for that respective period to themselves. The remaining month,
when their sun of favor was eclipsed, was during the falling of the
leaf, when the “drummers” came up to dun. The townish clerks
of the drygoods merchants were too much for the provincials.

Brown Crash knocked under and sulked, owing, as he said, to


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the melancholy depression accompanying the fall of the deciduous
vegetation. But I have not yet introduced you to my hero.

Brown Crash was the Slimford stage-agent. He was the son of
a retired watch-maker, and had been laughed at in his boyhood
for what they called his “airs.” He loved, even as a lad, to be
at the tavern when the stage came in, and help out the ladies.
With instinctive leisureliness he pulled off his cap as soon after
the “whoa-hup” as was necessary (and no sooner), and asked the
ladies if they would “alight and take dinner,” with a seductive
smile which began, as the landlord said, “to pay.” Hence his
promotion. At sixteen he was nominated stage-agent, and
thenceforward was the most conspicuous man in the village; for
“man” he was, if speech and gait go for anything.

But we must minister a moment to the reader's inner sense; for
we do not write altogether for Slimford comprehension. Brown
Crash had something in his composition “above the vulgar.” If
men's qualities were mixed like salads, and I were giving a “recipe
for Brown Crashes,” in Mrs. Glass's style, I should say his
two principal ingredients were a dictionary and a dunghill cock—
for his language was as ornate as his style of ambulation was
deliberate and imposing. What Brown Crash would have been,
born Right Honorable, I leave (with the smaller Dyapers and
Dimitys) to the reader's fancy. My object is to show what he
was—minus patrician nurture and valuation. Words, with Brown
Crash, were susceptible of being dirtied by use. He liked a clean
towel—he preferred an unused phrase. But here stopped his
peculiarities. Below the epidermis he was like other men, subject
to like tastes and passions. And if he expressed his loves and
hates with grandiloquent imagery, they were the honest loves and


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hates of a week-day world—no finer nor flimsier for their bedocked

To use his own phrase, Brown frequented but two ladies in
Slimford—Miss Harriet Dyaper and Miss Meena Dimity. The
first we have described in describing her nose, for her remainder
was comparatively inconsiderable. The latter was “a love,” and
of course had nothing peculiar about her. She was a lamp—nothing
till lighted. She was a mantle—nothing,except as worn by
the owner. She was a mirror—blank and unconscious till something
came to be reflected. She was anything, loved—unloved,
nothing! And this (it is our opinion after half a life) is the most
delicious and adorable variety of woman that has been spared to
us from the museum of specimen angels. (A remark of Brown
Crash's, by the way, of which he may as well have the credit.)

Now Mr. Crash had an ambitious weakness for the best society,
and he liked to appear intimate with the Dyapers. But in Meena
Dimity there was a secret charm which made him wish she was
an ever-to-be-handed-out lady-stage-passenger. He could have
given her a hand, and brought in her umbrella, and bandbox, all
day long. In his hours of pride he thought of the Dyapers. In
his hours of affection of Meena Dimity. But the Dyapers looked
down upon the Dimitys; and to play his card delicately between
Harriet and Meena, took all the diplomacy of Brown
Crash. The unconscious Meena would walk up Sassafras
street when she had his arm, and the scornful Harriet, would
be there with her nose over the front gate to sneer at them.
He managed as well as he could. He went on light evenings
to the Dyapers—on dark evenings to the Dimitys. He took
town-walks with the Dyapers—country walks with the Dimitys.
But his acquaintance with the Dyapers hung by the eyelids.


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Harriet liked him; for he was the only beau in Slimford whose
manners were not belittled beside her nose. But her acquaintance
with him was a condescension, and he well knew that he could not
“hold her by the nose” if she were offended. Oh no! Though
their respective progenitors were of no very unequal rank—
though a horologist and a “boss lumberman” might abstractly
be equals—the Dyapers had the power! Yes—they could lift
him to themselves, or dash him down to the Dimitys; and all
Slimford would agree, in the latter case, that he was a “slab” and
a “small potato!”

But a change came o'er the spirit of Brown Crash's dream!
The drummers were lording it in Slimford, and Brown, reduced
to Meena Dimity (for he was too proud to play second fiddle to a
town dandy), was walking with her on a dark night past the
Dyapers. The Dyapers were hanging over the gate, unluckily,
and their Pearl-street admirers sitting on the top rail of the fence.

“Who is it?” said a strange voice.

The reply, sent upward from a scornfully projecting under lip,
rebounded in echoes from the tense nose of Miss Dyaper.

A Mr. Crash, and a girl from the back street!”

It was enough. A hot spot on his cheek, a warm rim round
his eyes, a pimply pricking in his skin, and it was all over! His
vow was made. He coldly bid Meena good night at her father's
door, and went home and counted his money. And from that
hour, without regard to sex, he secretly accepted shillings from
gratified travellers, and “stood treat” no more. * * *

Saratoga was crowded with the dispersed nuclei of the
metropolises. Fashion, wealth, and beauty, were there. Brown
Crash was there, on his return from a tour to Niagara and the


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“Brown Crash, Esq” was one of the notabilities of Congress
Hall. Here and there a dandy “could not quite make him out,”
but there was evidently something uncommon about him. The
ladies thought him “of the old school of politeness,” and the
politicians thought he had the air of one used to influence in his
county. His language was certainly very choice and peculiar,
and his gait was conscious dignity itself. He must have been
carefully educated; yet his manners were popular, and he was
particularly courteous on a first introduction. The elegance and
ease with which he helped the ladies out of their carriages were
particularly remarked, and a shrewd observer said of him, that
that point of high breeding was only acquired by daily habit.
He must have been brought up where there were carriages and
ladies.” A member of Congress, who expected to run for governor,
inquired his county, and took wine with him. His name was
mentioned by the letter-writers from the springs. Brown Crash
was in his perihelion!

The season leaned to it's close, and the following paragraph
appeared in the New York American:—

Fashionable Intelligence.—The company at the Springs is
breaking up. We understand that the Vice-President and
Brown Crash, Esq., have already left for their respective residences.
The latter gentleman, it is understood, has formed a matrimonial
engagement with a family of wealth and distinction from
the south. We trust that these interesting bonds, binding together
the leading families of the far-divided extremities of our
country, may tend to strengthen the tenacity of the great American

It was not surprising that the class in Slimford who knew everything—the


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milliners, to wit—moralized somewhat bitterly on Mr.
Crash's devotion to the Dyapers after his return, and his consequent
slight to Meena Dimity. “If that was the effect of fashion
and distinction on the heart, Mr. Crash was welcome to his honors!
Let him marry Miss Dyaper, and they wished him much
joy of her nose; but they would never believe that he had not
ruthlessly broken the heart of Meena Dimity, and he ought to be
ashamed of himself, if there was any shame in such a dandy.”

But the milliners, though powerful people in their own way,
could little affect the momentum of Brown Crash's glories. The
paragraph from the “American” had been copied into the “Slimford
Advertiser,” and the eyes of Sassafras street and Pepperidge
street were alike opened. They had undervalued their indigenous
“prophet.” They had misinterpreted and misread the stamp of
his superiority. He had been obliged to go from them to be recognized.
But he was returned. He was there to have reparation
made—justice done. And now, what office would he like,
from Assessor to Pathmaster, and would he be good enough to
name it before the next town-meeting? Brown Crash was king of

And Harriet Dyaper! The scorn from her lip had gone, like,
the blue from a radish! Notes for “B. Crash, Esq.,” showered
from Sassafras street—bouquets from old Dyaper's front yard
glided to him per black boy—no end to the endearing attentions,
undisguised and unequivocal. Brown Crash and Harriet Dyaper
were engaged, if having the front parlor entirely given up to them
of an evening meant anything—if his being expected every night
to tea meant anything—if his devoted (though she thought rather
cold) attentions meant anything.

They didn't mean anything! They all didn't mean anything!


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What does the orthodox minister do, the third Sunday
after Brown Crash's return, but read the banns of matrimony
between that faithless man and Meena Dimity!

But this was not to be endured. Harriet Dyaper had a cousin
who was a “strapper.” He was boss of a sawmill in the next
county, and he must be sent for.

He was sent for.

The fight was over. Boss Dyaper had undertaken to flog
Brown Crash, but it was a drawn battle—for the combatants had
been pulled apart by their coat-tails. They stepped into the barroom
and stood recovering their breath. The people of Slimford
crowded in, and wanted to have the matter talked over. Boss
Dyaper bolted out his grievance.

“Gentlemen!” said Brown Crash, with one of his irresistible
come-to-dinner smiles, “I am culpable, perhaps, in the minutiæ
of this business—justifiable, I trust you will say, in the general
scope and tendency. You, all of you, probably, had mothers, and
some of you have wives and sisters; and your `silver cord' naturally
sympathizes with a worsted woman. But gentlemen, you are
republicans! You, all of you, are the rulers of a country very
large indeed; and you are not limited in your views to one woman,
nor to a thousand women—to one mile nor to a thousand miles.
You generalize! you go for magnificent principles, gentlemen!
You scorn high-and-mightiness, and supercilious aristocracy!”

“Hurra for Mr. Crash!” cried a stage-driver from the outside.

“Well, gentlemen! In what I have done, I have deserved well
of a republican country! True—it has been my misfortune to
roll my Juggernaut of principle over the sensibilities of that
gentleman's respectable female relative. But, gentlemen, she


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offended, remidilessly and grossly, one of the sovereign people!
She scorned one of earth's fairest daughters, who lives in a back
street! Gentlemen, you know that pride tripped up Lucifer!
Shall a tiptop angel fall for it, and a young woman who is nothing
particular be left scornfully standing? Shall Miss Dyaper have
more privileges than Lucifer? I appreciate your indignant

“But, gentlemen, I am free to confess, I had also my republican
private end. You know my early history. You have
witnessed my struggles to be respected by my honorable contemporaries.
If it be my weakness to be sensitive to the finger of
scorn, be it so. You will know how to pardon me. But I will
be brief. At a particular crisis of my acquaintance with Miss
Dyaper, I found it expedient to transfer my untrammelled ten
dernesses to Pepperidge street. My heart had long been in
Pepperidge street. But, gentlemen, to have done it without
removing from before my eyes the contumelious finger of the scorn
of Sassafras street, was beyond my capabilities of endurance.
In justice to my present `future,' gentlemen, I felt that I must
remove `sour grapes' from my escutcheon—that I must soar to
a point, whence swooping proudly to Meena Dimity, I should
pass the Dyapers in descending!

(Cheers and murmurs.)

“Gentlemen and friends! This world is all a fleeting show.
The bell has rung, and I keep you from your suppers. Briefly.
I found the means to travel and test the ring of my metal among
unprejudiced strangers. I wished to achieve distinction and
return to my birthplace; but for what? Do me justice, gentlemen.
Not to lord it in Sassafras street. Not to carry off a
Dyaper with triumphant elation! Not to pounce on your aristocratic


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No. 1, and link my destiny with the disdainful Dyapers!
No! But to choose where I liked, and have the credit of liking
it! To have Slimford believe that if I preferred their No. 2, it
was because I liked it better than No. 1. Gentlemen, I am a
republican! I may find my congenial spirit among the wealthy
—I may find it among the humble. But I want the liberty to
choose. And I have achieved it, I trust you will permit me the
liberty to say. Having been honored by the dignitaries of a
metropolis—having consorted with a candidate for gubernatorial
distinction—having been recorded in a public journal as a companion
of the Vice-President of this free and happy country—
you will believe me when I declare that I prefer Pepperidge
street to Sassafras—you will credit my sincerity, when, having
been approved by the Dyaper's betters, I give them the go-by
for the Dimitys! Gentlemen, I have done.”

The reader will not be surprised to learn that Mr. Brown
Crash is now a prominent member of the legislature, and an
excessive aristocrat—Pepperidge street and very democratic
speeches to the contrary notwithstanding.